Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


The Podcast

Listen Now!

Hire Dina Bring Dina to your community Schedule a Professional Development Seminar

DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Entries in Milk (9)


STUDY: High Protein Intake Related to Weight Gain in Young Children

If you're a pediatrician you're probably familiar with the "Early Protein Hypothesis."

But if you're a parent, you're probably saying, "huh?"

The Early Protein Hypothesis tries to explain the relationship between high protein intake in toddlers and later BMI and obesity risk.

Yes, too much protein early in life can be a bad thing. Who knew? This research supplies yet more evidence that habits matter. Start your kids off early on too much protein and the impact probably won't be what you expect. 

The solution: Rather than focus on getting protein—or any particular nutrients—into your kids. Teach your children the three habits of healthy eating.

Most of the parents I encounter are concerned about getting enough protein into their children.

Source: prettyvectors /

Even when I tell them that most American children consume way more protein than they need.

I've had parents tell me that they don't care about the recommendations for protein intake because they know that you can never have too much.

Hey, we're Americans...bigger is always better!


Protein intake during the first 2 years of life that exceed 15% of total calories increases the risk of increased weight gain.

The Institute of Medicine recommends:

  • Children 7-12 months consume 11 grams of protein daily
  • Children 1-3 years old need about 13 grams of protein daily 
  • Children 4-8 years old need about 19 grams of protein daily

Protein intake from animals and particularly dairy, compared to plant protein, seems to be particularly problematic. According to the American Society for Nutrition:

"[I]t is prudent to avoid excessive intakes of animal protein in young children from milk and from complementary and family foods, because intakes far above requirements have no known benefit but carry a possible risk." 

Two cups of milk provide more protein than young children need.

  • Milk and yogurt contain 8 grams of protein per cup. Two cups=16 grams of protein; more than anyone under 3 needs to consume.
  • If your children drink milk, they don't need any more protein.
  • And if your children don't drink milk, they can grow up just fine. Read Got Milk? Some Say You Don't Need It. 

Now there's research showing that teen boys consume way too much protein. More on that later.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Koletzko, B., H. Demmelmair, V. Grote, C. Prell, and M. Weber. 2016. “High Protein Intake in Young Children and Increased Weight Gain and Obesity Risk.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. First published ahead of print January 20, 2016 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.128009.


Dean Ornish on Dieting: Lessons for Parents

Calories are not all the same.  Being thin doesn't mean you're healthy. And, it matters what you eat.

Those were the messages at the heart of Dean Ornish's op-ed piece, published in The New York Times last weekend. 

The New York Times

Ornish was writing in response to a study, published earlier this year that showed that following a low-carb Atkins-type diet might be a fast way to lose weight.  

Ornish made the following points: 

  • "Being thin and being healthy are not the same thing. Some diets may help you lose weight but they won't keep you healthy."
  • "A low-carb diet increases metabolic rates because it's stressful to the body.  Just because something increases your metabolic rate doesn't mean it's good for you.  Amphetamines will also increase your metabolism and burn calories faster, which is why they are used to help people lose weight, at least temporarily. But they stress your body and may mortgage your health in the progress."
  • "What you eat is important as what you exclude—your diet needs to be high in healthful carbs like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes..." The list (and you know what it is) goes on.

So what's this got to do with feeding kids? I think Ornish has tapped into an important point.  

The nutrition mindset has led us to believe, not just that a calorie is a calorie, but that nutrients are nutrients and that it doesn't really matter how we get them.

Giving kids apple juice because it's been fortified with Vitamin C is a good example of this mentality. There are other reasons to give kids juice, i.e. it's a tasty treat.  But because it's been fortified with Vitamin C?

It doesn't make sense from a nutrition perspective. It also doesn't make sense from a habits perspective. 

Read Coke Beats Juice and Water vs. Punch and Soda.

Our cultural obsession with nutrition makes parents susceptible to feeding practices that send their kids' habits in the wrong direction.

That's how parents end up feeding their kids Veggie Pirate's Booty for the spinach, or chocolate milk for the calcium.  Both send kids' habits soaring away from real fruits and vegetables and healthy dairy products and towards junk.

Chocolate milk often has more sugar than a chocolate bar.  Read Chocolate Milk vs. Chocolate Bars.

But it's also the nutrition mindset that propels parents to dumb-down snacks.

They save "nutrition" for mealtimes.  Read Do No Harm Snacking

According to Ornish:

"About 75% of the $2.8 trillion in annual healthcare costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle. If we put money and effort into helping people make better food and exercise choices, we could improve our health and reduce the cost of healthcare."

But let's not wait until people need help dieting. Let's help people get it right from the get-go.  Ironically, that means paying more attention to habits than to nutrition.  After all, it's habits (not nutrition) that dictate what people—even little people— choose to eat.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~


Got Milk? Some Say You Don't Need It

If I had to name a single hot-button issue in the feeding arena it would be milk consumption.

Many parents do crazy things to get more moo into their kids' mouths.  

But milk consumption is one of those places where you have to think a little more about habits than about nutrition.

Of course, when it comes to milk it's harder to think about habits than to think about nutrition because our national dialogue about milk consumption is hysterical—not the funny kind of hysterical either.

Parents are led to believe their kids won't grow properly or that they'll suffer from some sort of early onset osteoporosis (I made that up, I don't think there is such a thing, but you get my point) if their children don't drink every last drop.

Mark Bittman raised a lot of interesting points about milk in The New York Times yesterday and, while Bittman doesn't address the needs of children specifically, his thoughts are definitely worth considering.

According to Bittman's article Got Milk? You Don't Need It:

  • Sugar—in the form of lactose—contributes about 55 percent of skim milk's calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda. (And yes, Bittman knows that milk contains more nutrients than soda.)
  • Milk is the second most common food allergy after peanuts, affecting an estimated 1.3 million children. According to Bittman, this allergy can be life threatening. (I did not know this.)
  • In Bittman's case, no dairy=no heartburn. (Something to consider if your little pumpkin has acid reflux.)
  • Milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and prostate cancer.
  • You don't need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. The rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries. The key to bone strength is exercise and vitamin D.

In my opinion, the most thought-provoking idea Bittman serves up is this: Most humans never tasted fresh milk from any source other than their mothers for almost all of human history.

Until now.  Makes you think.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't encourage your children to drink milk.

My daughter drinks milk, always has.  But if your child doesn't, for some reason, don't freak out, and don't contort yourself trying to get her to drink more.

I would rather produce a child who: 

  • Eats a wide variety of healthy foods even if she drinks no milk at all. 

Rather than produce a child who: 

  • Drinks plenty of milk but who won't, for instance, even look at anything green. 

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~